One of the most common comments I hear when discussing meditation is:
How can I get my mind to be quiet?
We carry in our vast mental storehouse an unfathomable amount of wisdom, chaos and clutter. Ever try to lay down to sleep and your mind decides to drag out all you unfinished chores, grudges, shoulda, coulda, woulda events; things from the past, worries about the present. When our minds get cranking in this mode, we could be up for hours tossing and turning.
Some say their minds remind them of pinball machines.
I use the mental picture of mischievous and playful monkeys – 5 little monkeys jumping in our head – only it’s more like 500 little monkeys jumping and playing in our heads.
How can we quiet these monkeys?
How can we find mental peace?
We need quiet so we can listen to the still small voice within.
We need quiet so we can hear the answer to our prayers.
We need quiet so we can attune to our spirit guides.
Prayer is when we are talking.
The answer to our prayers – our guidance – happens when we are still.
So, how to get to this peaceful mental clarity.
Let me give you some of my thoughts on how I achieve mental peace – I have for suggestions.
First – when my mind is really crazy and the 500 funloving spirited monkeys are bounding around my head, I will need a mantra to settle the chaos.
There is nothing fancy about a mantra.
You don’t have to climb the mountains in Tibet to have a sage monk whisper your personal mantra in your ear.
A mantra can be as simple as:
Or one I love for myself, and one I use with my trauma patients is:
I am safe
I am loved
You are safe
You are loved
I repeat this over and over, with each deep inhalation and exhalation until I achieve mental quiet.
Then I focus on my breathing and enjoy this ripe rich and spiritual time,
If a thought returns – I begin my mantra again until I can sink deeper into this mental and spiritual peace.
A second method I often use – especially after a traumatic night at the hospital is to ask my Spirit Guides – or God – to take all of my burdens, thoughts, and mental meanderings and hold them for me until morning. My prayer goes something like this:
Dear Spirit Team- I need to sleep now, a peaceful restorative sleep. Today was a full and busy day. I am asking you to lift out of my mind, body and heart all of the clutter I accumulated today and carry it for me. Hold it for me so I can sleep in quiet, still and beautiful peace.
Let the winds of Spirit blow away any unnecessary thoughts and in the morning, return to me only what is important for this day. I thank you for your love, guidance and support.
Then, if a stray thought dances through my mind – I just say, “Spirit, please take this thought.”
My third suggestion is good for a cluttered mind during waking hours: it is simply to live in the moment. When we live mindfully, in the moment, in the now – there is no room for mental clutter or chaos.
Life happens in the moment and when we are able to keep mindful – our minds are so full of vibrancy and life that we can achieve mental clarity.
And the fourth is the Serenity prayer - another good tool for clearing clutter of any kind in our minds, bodies and hearts.
Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The Courage to change the things I can
The Wisdom to know the difference.
Try one or all four depending upon your circumstances and the crazy, playful monkeys jumping in your head. They will truly help you to:
Be still and know that there is God
Be still and know